Alfred Edmeades Bestall, MBE (1892-1986) Alfred Bestall was already an experienced cartoonist and illustrator when, in 1935, he succeeded Tourtel as author and illustrator of Rupert Bear. A fine landscape painter, he injected a greater realism and strong sense of place into the narratives, making the element of fantasy seem all the more convincing. He was at his most impressive in the work that he produced for the covers and endpapers of the Annuals, as is exemplified here. The son of pioneer Methodist missionaries, Alfred Bestall was born in Mandalay, Burma, on 14 December 1892. He was educated at Rydal Mount School, Colwyn Bay (1904-11), and won a scholarship to the Birmingham Central School of Art (1912-14). However, the First World War interrupted his studies, and he served in Flanders in the 35th (Bantam) Division.
He then attended the Central School of Art, London (1919-22), and began to contribute to a large number of books and periodicals, including Punch and The Tatler. He also produced images for postcards and posters, and painted in oil. Replacing Tourtel in 1935, Bestall worked for 30 years as full-time writer and illustrator of Rupert, and continued to contribute to the Annuals until he was ninety-three. The elaborate exercises in paper folding that he introduced into the Annuals led to his election as President of the British Origami Society. For many years, Bestall lived in Surbiton and holidayed in North Wales, buying a cottage in Bedgellert in 1956. He died at Wern Manor Nursing Home, Porthmadog, on 15 January 1986. He had received an MBE in 1985. Bestall’s goddaughter and biogapher, Caroline Bott has built up a permanent exhibition of his work at her home at Milford, Surrey (which is open by appointment). She and her husband have promised the Bestall archive to the Bodleian Library, Oxford.